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Government to roll out Mini Holland schemes beyond London

Around a dozen local authorities outside the capital will share £239 million to boost cycling and walking

The government plans to roll out Mini Holland schemes similar to those found in three London boroughs to English towns and cities outside the capital.

The Department for Transport (DfT) has reportedly made £239 million available for around 12 such initiatives across the country.

Local authorities interested in bidding for a share of the money were invited to do so in a letter sent to them last week by DfT deputy director Rupert Furness inviting applications for grants from the government’s Active Travel Fund.

In the letter, excerpts of which were quoted on by transport author and journalist Carlton Reid, Furness made it clear that schemes would need to include proper segregation in accordance with the LTN 1/20 standard, and that cycle lanes demarcated solely by paint would be rejected.

> Government tells councils it won’t fund painted cycle lanes

Furness told local authorities: “Mini Hollands involve intensive spending on local roads and streetscapes to make them, over time, as cycle and pedestrian-friendly as their Dutch equivalents.”

The three Mini Holland boroughs in London – Enfield, Kingston-upon-Thames and Waltham Forest – each received around £30 million to help realise their ambitions for encouraging active travel and reducing motor traffic, including installing segregated cycleways and low traffic neighbourhoods.

The award of the grants was announced in March 2014 by then Mayor of London Boris Johnson, who as Prime Minister last year heralded “a new golden age for cycling” as the government made active travel a key part of the country’s recovery from the coronavirus pandemic. His former cycling commissioner for London, Andrew Gilligan, is now transport advisor at 10 Downing Street.

In Waltham Forest, which is centred on Walthamstow, despite vociferous local opposition and a failed High Court challenge, they have had a transformational effect on local areas where schemes have been implemented, and in his letter Furness underlined that councils seeking a share of the Mini Holland funding would need to demonstrate that they were serious about effecting change within their communities.

He said: “Candidate authorities must be places where there is serious political commitment to dramatic change, not just for cyclists, but for everyone who lives and works there.”

Regarding potential opposition to plans to encourage active travel, he wrote: “Consultation does not mean giving anyone a veto or prioritising the loudest voices.”

In 2018, a study by Dr Rachel Aldred of the University of Westminster, published in the academic journal Transportation Research, found that Mini Holland schemes encouraged higher levels of cycling and walking and that local residents had developed a more positive perception of cycling and the local environment.

> Study finds London's Mini-Hollands are encouraging more cycling - and especially, walking

In her paper, Dr Aldred, said there was “no evidence that time spent in cars was increasing (due to congestion), nor that walking environments were becoming less attractive due to the introduction of cycle lanes.

“On the contrary, it is encouraging that the increase in active travel was composed both of more walking, and more cycling – this perhaps reflects the refocusing of the mini-Holland programme to focus on walking as well as cycling along with an early focus on traffic reduction in residential areas in Waltham Forest.”

She added: “The findings suggest that large-scale interventions with ambitious area-based components can lead to uptake in active travel, even over only a year, with the programmes only partly implemented.

“Outer London had not previously seen the substantial mode shift observed in Inner London, thus this suggests that even in less apparently promising locations, investment can drive uplift in walking and cycling.”

Simon has been news editor at since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.

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